One of the questions I get all the time is where the ideas for all these builds come from as well their names. While there are more than one answer to that let me give you an idea with an example.
One of these days I’m scouting for fine woods you all are so used to expect from ViK Guitars. And there comes up a quilted maple drop top with a nice tabular figure of long sausages nicely packed in rows on perfectly mirrored sides. I don’t use drop tops very often but it’s been a minute since I last crafted a Domineer with a highly figured top, so I went for it. Few days later it arrived in the mail, got properly drooled over and went to the wood shelf to acclimate and get otherwise ready for the glorious future it was destined for.
The figure on that top reminded me of the lefty ViK Duality 7 “Pacific sunset” that I built several years ago. The stain pattern on it came out so well I’m still receiving lots of messages about it and complains for making it a lefty.. Making the same thing all over again is not really my way so I’ve been cooking ideas for this new build on backup while preparing and processing all the woods I picked for this project. Wenge neck and swamp ash body is one of may favorite combinations that provides a very solid foundation for an instrument with nicely shaped big bottom, tight growling low mids and not too crisp or biting top (as opposed to adding maple neck). Adding a maple top would tighten things up, add focus and overall control over that one piece super lightweight and resonant body. Decision to use roasted birds eye maple for the fingerboard came on later stage after the top had already been stained. I think it was a great fit design-wise and a new thing to try out as I’ve never done it before.
And so the body was glued and well seasoned, routed with the CNC and carved/sanded by hand. That’s when you gotta line up the stain bottles and get your inspiration/creativity levels into the beast-mode as you don’t get too many second tries with these fancy tops.
I like to correlate my staining patterns with the body shapes, try and see the flow of the curves and lines and follow them wherever they’d take me. From the time when I was working on the very first ViK Domineer H6 with gorgeous green quilted maple top (that was later presented at NAMM’20) it was clear that Domineer model likes the “dragon breathe” pattern as it’s called by one other company)). The aggressive scoop at the bottom of a Domineer body creates a fully justified “open” area that would otherwise have to be a part of a “closed” sunburst pattern. Which means I can “loose” my outer darker accents at the left and right edges and allow the center tones flow to the bottom and graciously drop like a waterfall into the “headless” scoop.
So we have our staining pattern, we have the figure to apply it to, we have the colors, let’s do it!
I like to use water based stains as they allow for more working time as well as nicer smoother transitioned between colors. Well dried maple takes the stains nicely and instantly opens up all the 3D figure it’s packing. Sometimes it’s hard to not get distracted and finish the job without drooling all over it. One of the upsides of having a creative freedom is that you can follow the vibe of the moment and let it take you wherever it needs to go. With this staining job I found myself doing way more blacks to intensify those fading “waters” going on the horns and at some point it hit me – I’m not drawing the setting Sun anymore.
For three years I lived on the Pacific coast in California I’ve seen a lot of sunsets over the ocean. That’s one of the most vibrant images I have stitched into my brain. Those several minutes when we would park by the Pacific Highway and watch the red hot sun disc drop into the cold waters of the Pacific. Depending on the time of the year and weather conditions every single time that would be a different picture but always gorgeous nonetheless. One of those images was well represented on the ViK Duality 7L “Pacific Sunset” project but this was somehow different. I realized that instead I’m heading for the Moon or rather for its’ reflection over the dark ocean waters in the middle of the night. The amount of reds I’ve already put in made it absolutely clear – this was no ordinary Moon but rare and eerie “Blood Moon”. Now it all finally made perfect sense and that picture was now complete. The name of this project has just revealed itself. Satisfied with the outcome I sealed the top and clear coated it.
Few days later I found out that this whole story was followed by actual Lunar Eclipse which creates that effect of red Moon also known as “Blood Moon”. Imagine my surprise! It’s the moments like that when you have to realized how everything is connected in the world whether you know it or not. There are lots of things we don’t fully understand about how this Universe operates. It’s hard to tell where the inspiration comes from but knowing this event found its’ way into your artwork is pretty amazing.
Now where does the Surf part fit into all this? I found it’s the result of the train of thoughts I encountered after doing some “soul search” on the subject of Blood Moon. And I think it’s about courage. Surfing in dark waters is pretty scary and probably fairly stupid thing to do but also very courageous. Doing that in the light on the eerie Blood Moon is taking all that to the level of rebellion and defiance, facing your darkest fears and overcoming them altogether. What a remarkable twist to otherwise rather dark and dreadful concept!
Once the spiritual part of this artwork has been resolved it was only a matter of adding a few details and wrapping the whole thing up. My “Moon phases” inlays design fit right in.
The rest fo this story is mostly of technical nature and falls outside of our subject this time. Hope this provides some insight of what goes into conceptual projects like this one and many others.